Two men, Mark Dhuman and Andre Azimullah, has today, 8th of June, 2022, been sentenced to death for the 2017 slaying of businessman Danian Jagdeo. Jagdeo was trailed from the upper Corentyne area down to a shop at Alness Village, Corentyne, while he was plying his trade as a phone card vendor. A man using a motorcycle carrying a false number plate tracked him to the shop and robbed him at gunpoint. Danian put up a fight during which he was shot by the armed robber.
After thorough investigations and aggressive interrogations, five men were charged with the crime of robbery under arms and murder, and were remanded to prison. Earlier this year, the five men were found guilty of the crime, and today, they were sentenced. Two of the five men were handed life sentences, one was given a 17-year sentence, and the two who were deemed the “masterminds” of the crime were sentenced to death.
The death sentence however, is only nominal in Guyana. Since 1997, when the last execution by hanging was carried out, no other death sentence was carried out – even while there are at least 17 people sitting on death row. The two sentenced today will push the numbers up to 19 persons awaiting execution on death row – executions which are unlikely to ever happen.
Capital punishment was instituted in then British Guiana by the British rulers, but the UK has long abolished the death penalty in its own country. Independent Guyana kept the death penalty active until recently when several human rights organizations started to push for abolition. Even the UK is a proponent for the abolition of the death penalty worldwide.
Guyana is the only country in South America where the death penalty still exists – although it now exists only by name as its fate hangs the balance. And in the Caribbean region, Belize and Guyana are the only two countries which still maintain the death penalty in their laws.
If the challenge mounted against the death penalty in Guyana succeeds, and the death penalty is abolished, then those awaiting execution on death row will be resentenced.